Geography Geektasticness.

Disclaimer: Nerdalicious Homeschooling Post ahead.  Feel free to skip if you don’t give a flip.

After Ali learned all of her states (and a lot of countries) a couple of years ago, she lost interest in geography (or maybe I did…or both), and so she forgot many of them. However, thanks to some of her favorite iPad apps, she has had a renewed obsession, and knows them better than ever.

“Hey Mom, look!! This chip looks just like South Carolina!!”

“I bet I can eat my piece of cheese into the shape of Brazil!!”

And, since my guiding philosophy for preschool homeschooling is to focus on what they’re interested in at that moment, we’ve been making states and countries a part of everything we’ve been doing.

…And I’ve been using it as a secret weapon to get her interested in other things.

Ali has been hesitant to draw at all lately – she has quite a complex that she “can’t” draw.  So I thought that perhaps tracing something she was consumed with would help her regain her confidence in drawing.

So we got out a black and white outline of the United States and a big piece of paper, and set to work tracing together.


At first, she was all like, “I can’t trace that” and “Can you help me with the wiggly lines?”  But I finally convinced her that she could indeed do it, and pure dweebish excitement soon followed.


I traced the eastern side and she did the western and midwestern sections, highly focused and quite perfectionistically.


And she was quite proud of our finished product.  Actually drawing the states further solidified in her mind where and what they all were.

(And she might have helped me out with which was Vermont and which was New Hampshire.)


Once she had her map, she wanted to know which states I had been to…then her, then Noah, then Chris.  You get the point.

So, because I constantly sometimes tire of answering the same questions over and over, I decided that marking down this information was a perfect use of our map, and she was thrilled for the project.


There is nothing that fulfills Ali’s soul more than to have a legend, so over the next week, she spent her playtime calling various friends and family members and painstakingly quizzing them, state by state.


Every time she would get a dot in a previously un-visited state, she would do a delighted squeal, jump, and fist pump.

“Have you been to Montana?”

(sigh) “Mommy – Kitty hasn’t been to Montana.”

“Have you been to North Dakota?”

(squeal) “Mommy – Kitty’s been to NORTH DAKOTA!!!!”

Her map has become her prized possession – her passion in life.


So far, we don’t know anyone who has been to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island.  And Ali is not happy about their lack of color.


…but I have a feeling that she won’t give up until she’s checked every box and colored every lonely state.

Because living a life with unchecked boxes is not really living at all.
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You might also like this list of 215 Read-Alouds for Children:

Geography, Pre-K Style.

Since the debut of our “states” fun back in April, a lot of people have asked about our progress.

So, I finally remembered to videotape it.

This project was simple:  Two or three mornings a week, I would pull out our states placemat.  I would place a small treat on a state, and if Ali correctly named the state, she got to keep the treat.  If she didn’t, it went on another state, after I reminded her the name of the prior state.  Her attention span is typical for a 2 1/2 year old, so we spent about 5 minutes on this project a day.

Disclaimer #1: Yes, the angle and lighting start out bad. I promise I fix it after a couple of states.

Disclaimer #2: Yes, I know that this video is long. But there are a lot of states. Gimme a break.

2 1/2 Years old
2 1/2 Months of learning (or, the “fun new game”, as Ali thinks it is)
3.5 pounds of Pistachios
1/2 million marshmallows
150 Yogurt covered raisins (for variety)

p.s. – I just figured out the trick of stealing and re-rewarding today – but she didn’t seem to notice too much. Cuts down on the sugar intake nicely.

Click here for our further adventures in learning countries..


We also learned Presidents

You might also be interested in this follow-up project: